The Maryland Transit Administration commuter bus service is necessary, vital and altogether indispensable for thousands of Howard County citizens who rely on the buses to get to their jobs in the Washington metropolitan area. 

These Howard County residents pay a premium in housing costs and taxes in order to live in Howard County and enjoy all the advantages the County has to offer: excellent schools for their children, outstanding libraries, county-sponsored activities for their children, fire and police, superior health care, open spaces, and safe communities. For these people, commuting to work obviously requires long days and sacrifice. Nonetheless, they consider the quality of life that Howard County offers them worth the commitment. But, now, their entire way of life could be upended. 

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) proposed fiscal 2025 budget would eliminate all MTA bus services from Howard County locations to Washington and Baltimore.

The MTA commuter buses provide Howard County residents with a safe, reliable, comfortable, and direct commute to their jobs. The MTA commuter buses are by far the best and most efficient way to commute from Howard County. There is no Metro service to Howard County. In short, these buses are a lifeline.

Canceling the eight MTA commuter bus routes in Howard County would cut the “lifeline” that so many residents rely on to juggle good jobs and quality of life. One of the assets of Howard County for those who pay the taxes to live here is the reliability of available services, including the MTA commuter bus lines. It makes absolutely no sense to deprive innumerable taxpaying Howard County residents of this necessary and important commuter transportation. 

Yet this great loss will occur, through no fault of their own, if this proposal is enacted. 

My friend and neighbor, the parent of a young child, said: “This would severely affect me and my family. We are a one car family because I am able to commute to my office in D.C. via a commuter bus that picks me up from the mall. If this were to happen, we would have to buy another car, add it to our insurance, pay for gas and maintenance, and pay for parking daily. Not to mention the mental and physical toll driving in rush hour traffic will take.”

I am not in the same situation as my friend.  Instead, I am a retired federal employee who has lived in Columbia since 1983. I worked for the federal government for 40 years and commuted to Washington. I traveled back and forth on the Dillon and Martz buses until fairly recently. I truly cannot overstate the value of the bus system that allowed me to enjoy life in Columbia. It would have been impossible otherwise.  The buses are not a luxury—they are essential.

This proposed draconian extinction of a de facto public service is grotesquely inappropriate for the Howard County voters who work hard, play by the rules, and participate actively in their communities. The proposal must be defeated, and the MTA commuter bus lines must be preserved to ensure a viable future for these communities in Howard County.

— Sally Kearney, Columbia

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